It’s been a disruptive few months, to say the least… Uprooted from your workspace by the COVID-19 crisis, it can be challenging to stay focused and channel your energy into work. It probably feels like your mind is going in a million different directions, and it’s crucial now, more than ever for you to - STOP!
Now take a deep breath, and remember, you are in control of your mindfulness.
Keep reading for tips on how to master your mindfulness and build a positive work culture that nurtures your personal, as well as your professional self.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness can be understood as awareness of what's happening around you, but most importantly inside of you. Conscious understanding of where you are at emotionally and physically will show you what you are capable of achieving.
MINDFUL; TO BE CONSCIOUS AND AWARE OF WHAT’S HAPPENING IN THE PRESENT.
Mindfulness originated as a Buddhist meditation practice, popular for improving physical and mental health. It can decrease anxiety, improve your sleeping habits, and help you lead a healthier lifestyle. The smallest adjustments to your day-to-day routine can transform your mental state and change your mindset.
Mastering the Mindful Mentality: Mindfulness Exercises
Of course, it’s one thing to preach a practice and it’s another to do it. We will share with you some simple tricks & tips, as well as mindfulness apps and free mindfulness exercises that can help you transform your mindset and elevate yourself to a more mindful place...
Start Your Day by Setting the Tone
The first mindfulness for beginners tip does not even need to happen at your workspace, especially whilst we’re remote! Your morning sets the tone for the rest of your day, so it’s important to use this time wisely. Leslie Sagio, who teaches Midday Meditation for OneCoWork members, suggests;
Start the day reflecting on 3-5 things you are grateful for.
Take deep breaths and mentally prepare yourself for the day ahead.
Remind yourself to stay focused and level-headed at work.
You can do this mindfulness exercise first thing in the morning when you wake up, having a cup of coffee or even when you sit down at your desk. According to mindful advocates, a couple of minutes of these thoughts can provide you with more focused and creative work.
This mindfulness tip is great because it’ll help reduce your stress without taking time out of your busy workday. When you take shorter breaths, it activates the emotional part of the brain and blocks the prefrontal cortex used for judgment and reasoning.
There’s a good chance you don’t breathe deeply enough when you’re busy at work. The solution is simply taking deeper breaths throughout the day. Taking deep breaths will help you think clearly and you’ll be able to tackle a heavy workload with ease.
Work Breaks are Your Friend
What better time to regroup and increase your mindfulness than on a quick break or lunchtime? This is one of the mindfulness exercises for groups. Take advantage of this time, solo or with colleagues, by doing some mindfulness exercises.
Get up on your break and take a short walk or do a little stretching to stay loose. Ditch the phone and really focus on how you’re feeling in the moment. Your lunch break should be a mindful experience and an opportunity to really connect with your meal and enjoy it. If you can’t afford to step away from your desk on your lunch break, then at least focus on your first few bites.
Don’t Be Too Critical of Yourself
There’s nothing wrong with a little self-evaluating when you’re in the workplace. However, we tend to be our own toughest critic and focus more on things we do wrong rather than things we do right. This is absolutely detrimental because it can create more stress and self-doubt.
For this mindfulness tip, try to learn as much from your positive experiences as your negative ones and treat them as equals.
Particularly whilst we are stuck at home in self-isolation, it’s unfair to judge ourselves to the standards of normal life. You don’t have to stop self-evaluating, just have a more neutral approach so you begin to feel positive about achievements each day.
Identify How Your Body Responds to Everyday Events
Sometimes when you are nervous to present in a meeting your stomach may get butterflies. Likewise, when you experience conflict with a coworker your face may get a bit red. Other times you’ll nail a pitch and you’ll feel out of this world.
This last mindfulness tip for the workplace is to identify these physical responses. Once you’re able to do this, you can find ways to decrease feeling the physical effects of negative scenarios. Over time your body won’t physically react to these negative scenarios and you’ll feel more in control of whatever comes your way.
Guided Mindfulness Exercises: Must-Have Apps
If you are overwhelmed by how to start being mindful, consider downloading an app to support you through the transition. Here are five of our favourite mindfulness apps to help guide you through some simple mindfulness exercises.
Headspace is an app that provides 10-minute guided meditations. The free version offers 10 days of guided meditations and “mini” sessions like a minute-long breathing meditation which are helpful if you only have a minute to spare. If you like the results, you can purchase the app for €9.99 per month which then unlocks over 500 hours of meditation content.
Rated as “World’s Happiest App”, Calm is known for its quick meditation sessions and restful sound effects. They have a 7-day beginner’s program and offer meditation sessions that last between 5-25 minutes long.
By paying the monthly fee (€9.99), you open access to the advanced programs which can help you deal with emotions such as anxiety, stress, and sleep resulting in an overall positive and more grounded outlook.
3. Stop, Breathe and Think
Stop, Breathe and Think prides itself on serving the “under-25” generation. When you first open the app, you record how you’re feeling mentally and physically. By doing this, the app will generate which mindfulness exercises you need for that session.
The free version includes 30 mindfulness exercises and “body scans” which helps you find sensations in your body. The 9.99 per month fee unlocks over 70 exercises including yoga and a “Learn how to meditate” guide.
If you’re looking for an app that’ll fit your on-the-go lifestyle, then Aura might be what you’re looking for. In 15-minute sessions, the app personalizes the exercises based on what you’re feeling and you can choose what works for you and what doesn’t.
The 7.99 per month subscription provides over 1,000 exercises. You can also record daily notes on how you’re feeling which appears on a graph so you can see your daily moods.
Buddhify, unlike the other apps, requires a 4.99 fee that you pay up-front and allows you to explore the entire app. They feature a “wheel” separated by colourful segments each representing a mindfulness exercise you can try and personalize.
You can add and remove the exercises you like from your personal wheel so that it’s specific to your needs. Many exercises are meant for on the go purposes that you can use when you’re walking or even at work.
Don’t let work be a source of stress or hold you back. Try some of these mindfulness tips and tricks and watch your entire mindset evolve. You’ll be more productive, level-headed, and have the confidence to conquer work every day!
Mindfulness: How it can build a Positive Work Culture
Whilst mindfulness is personal, having a mindful team will create a positive work culture. Having a positive work culture is ultimately every professionals’ end goal. If you have a job you look forward to, your positive energy will translate into more focused, higher quality work.
We asked some members at OneCoWork to reflect on what they thought “positive work culture” meant. According to them, it's feeling like you are part of one big family amongst your fellow co-workers. To be considered as a unique human being and not just as an employee.
To have a sense of pride in your job role and the company you work for. It is being able to be yourself.
“Companies that incorporate positive psychology to their core value, have 3 times more revenue than the ones who don’t.” - Giselle Timmerman
Giselle Timmerman, a positive psychology speaker, explained that positive work culture brings a lot to your company that is not measurable in your employees’ happiness. Being positive creates a virtuous circle that will only bring you more positive outcomes because acting mindfully and with purpose translates into strategic and smart decisions.
None of this is possible without mindfulness. So we turned to Giselle Timmerman, to explain how we can mindfully build our own positive work environment.
The 6 Pillars of Positive Work Culture:
1. Purpose & Meaning
Think mindfully about the purpose of your work. You will understand it better, get a brighter vision and will feel more motivated. This can be shared with your team, especially if you are the leader. As a leader, you need to inspire coworkers by showing them how their tasks join together to make the bigger picture and fulfil the company strategy. When roles are given meaning, people feel important and are more likely to achieve.
2. Positivity & Wellbeing
It’s not the first time that we say it, and it certainly won’t be the last. Caring about the well-being of your coworkers will have a direct impact on their work. Employees that feel happy are less likely to get stressed, quit or call in sick. Happy colleagues who feel supported within their team are more profitable, more resourceful and more innovative.
Do you know what your strengths are? Don’t worry, only 1 out of 3 people know their personal strength.
However, being mindful and reflective on what your strengths could be will help you. Your strengths are your innate way of being. Employees valued for strength over skills, end up 6 times more engaged, 8% more productive and 15% less likely to quit.
4. Self-awareness & Growth
Is there any chance to grow within your role? Setting mindful and strategic milestones for your professional development will help ensure you are on top of your game! Likewise, for leaders, make sure your team know about their opportunities for progression and promotion. Being able to grow within a company is a top driver of feeling motivated.
What is your company vision regarding challenges? Are you giving and receiving feedback from your team when it comes to learning from mistakes? Everyone makes mistakes and everyone faces different challenges, but it’s embracing those mistakes as opportunities for growth that makes employees comfortable to take risks and do their best work.
Does your team feel like a unit? Would you feel confident to discuss professional issues with your manager? If you feel safe in your work environment and build strong working relationships with the people you spend all day talking to, you will create a joyful atmosphere.
Wrapping up: Living Mindfully
We hope that this guide to improving your mindfulness helps you take charge of your own work environment. Remember, even though COVID-19 might have forced you to work from a different space, you have total control over how you transform this experience mentally.